The Cuban Ambassador (Martínez Fraga) to the Secretary of State



. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I beg Your Excellency to accept the expression of my appreciation for the note to which I now reply. That note, with its enclosures, has been transmitted to my Government by the most rapid means.
While my observations may not prejudice the definitive reply of the Government of Cuba to the proposals made by Your Excellency’s Government, I consider it an elementary and urgent duty to clarify certain points noticed in your note of the 24th instant.
In effect, Your Excellency kindly refers in the first paragraph of the said note—paraphrased in paragraph one of this note—to the circumstances that both the text of the notice of intention to negotiate, published on November 30, 1938, and the attached list of products which would be the object of hearings were previously shown me and that both obtained the expression of my concurrence [acuerdo]69 on behalf of the Government of Cuba.
I beg Your Excellency to permit me to recall, in my turn, that in the numerous conversations held by the respective officials of our Governments and, particularly, in those which took place during the first weeks of the month of November 1938, the names of the products included in the above-cited list and other products, particularly small fruits and meats, were mentioned and considered. When, on November 29, the text of the notice of intention to negotiate and the annexed list of products were communicated to me, I limited myself to receiving the list and to stating that I would personally forward it to my Government, without expressing or being able to express any concurrence or lack of concurrence. I do not know whether the English word “concurrence” which Your Excellency uses in the paragraph of your note which I am now examining, possesses a meaning different from that expressed by acuerdo. The only action which I should or could have made on the occasion in question was of a material order: to [Page 562] receive the documents which were kindly offered me for the purpose of transmitting them to my Government.
Those documents and their content merely constituted the first formal manifestation of the conversations held until that time between the officials of our respective Governments, but they could in no way signify a basis of negotiation so inflexible as to prohibit my Government from proposing on its side, as it did in the list attached to my note of February 16 of this year,72 other modifications or amplifications supplementing the Trade Agreement of 1934.
To suppose the contrary would lead us to one of these two absurd situations: a) a pact (a unilateral pact for the reason which I shall set forth below) was practically effected between the officials of our respective Governments who had conducted the preparatory conversations on these negotiations and, accordingly, necessity for negotiation would vanish; or b) one of the High Contracting Parties, Cuba, accepted (unilaterally, for the reason which I shall set forth below) without the indispensable public hearing, analogous to that which the Government of the United States arranged to hold, certain concessions from among all those mentioned and considered in the preparatory conversations.
The unilateral element to which I refer twice in the above paragraph is obvious because the repeated queries made by officials of the Government of Cuba of the officials of the Government of the United States relative to the concessions which this latter Government would naturally request of that of Cuba, as a just equivalent of those which might be granted Cuba, received always as sole reply the statement that a request would be made “for a quota for rice, the product of the soil of the United States and something else”.
As a result, the list of products published on November 30 by the notice of intention to negotiate did not constitute and could not constitute for the Government of Cuba or for the Government of the United States a barrier which would exclude future and more or less ample reciprocal proposals of modifications or amplifications by the said Governments to the existing Trade Agreement of 1934.
A rapid examination of the list of products of the soil and of the industry of the United States which Your Excellency so kindly attached to the note to which I now reply, and which contains the modifications and amplifications requested by your Government of that of Cuba in the Cuban customs duties on imports constitutes the best argument in favor of what I have just stated, because, in addition to including a request for a Cuban quota of 90,720,000 kilograms for American rice and a customs reduction for this product which replaces the present duty of 1.85 by another of 0.86, it adds twelve requests for [Page 563] customs reduction and other requests relative to certain exceptions from duties and other substantial changes.
Finally, as is easily noted, both Your Excellency’s Government and my Government—in officially formulating their respective proposals, the former in the note to which I now reply and the latter in my note of February 16—have both held the just and correct opinion of considering the preparatory conversations on these negotiations and the internal acts effected by each Government for the sake thereof to be mere bases of negotiation which in no way limit or could limit the field of their reciprocal proposals.
I trust, Excellency, that the remarks which I respectfully take the liberty of including in this note will happily clarify apparent contradictions and assist in the success of the negotiations which now occupy us.
I take special pleasure in advising Your Excellency that my Government has seen fit to provide that these negotiations, instituted by me in this capital, shall continue, as regards Cuba, under my charge and care.

I take [etc.]

Martínez Fraga
  1. The omitted paragraphs numbered 1 to 9, inclusive, acknowledged and recapitulated the note of May 24 to the Cuban Ambassador, supra.
  2. Brackets appear in the file translation.
  3. Not printed.